16 May 08
Gigi Galli of the Stobart Ford team was fastest through the fourth stage of Rally Italy, to the delight of the Italian and his home crowd.
After going off the road on SS2 and dropping from third to seventh place, Galli’s win moved him back up to sixth overall. “You know when you’re in front of your own people you like to do something well,” said a delighted Galli at the stage end. “And when something happened earlier it was very frustrating, but anyway I tried to enjoy that one.”
Jari-Matti Latvala set the second fastest time and was another driver recovering places after an earlier incident - in his case moving from 11th to 10th. “This is a long rally and we still have the chance to get a good result,” said Latvala. “I have to keep the car on the road and keep my driving precise. A podium isn’t impossible.”
Petter Solberg set the third fastest time and moved up to fourth, ahead of his Subaru team-mate Chris Atkinson.
Rally leader Sebastien Loeb and his championship rival Mikko Hirvonen set exactly the same time over the 16km stage, with Hirvonen no longer sweeping loose gravel from the road. “The roads didn’t really look any different, there were some ruts and it still felt slippery but we’ll see how it goes,” said Hirvonen.
Loeb meanwhile insisted he was still trying hard. “We did the same time as Mikko, but okay, we took a good lead this morning and now we try and keep it,” he said. “I’m not being more cautious, yes I’m trying to avoid punctures, but I’m pushing.”
The two Suzuki World Rally Team entries switched places in the running order for SS4 after Toni Gardemeister said he left the preceding service four minutes late when work on his cars hydraulic system overran. P-G Andersson said her checked out a minute late for a similar reason.
Khalid Al Qassimi’s went off the road and retired when his Ford Focus RS WRC became stuck in a ditch.